There are some 13 species of snakes in Spain, of which 5 are venomous (shown in red).
- Grass Snake
- Ladder Snake
- Aesculapian Snake
- Horseshoe Whip Snake
- Smooth Snake
- Southern Smooth Snake
- Western Whip Snake
- Viperine Snake
- Asp Viper
- Seoane’s Viper
- Snub-Nosed Viper
- Montpellier Snake
- Hooded Snake
Seoane’s viper lives in Galicia, León, the Cantabrian coastal strip and the Basque Country.
The most prevalent of the vipers, Lataste’s viper/Snub-nosed Viper, is present throughout the Iberian Peninsula, though not actually considered to be common. It is grey, around 50cm in length and is distinguished by its triangular head and zigzag pattern on its back. It lives in dry, rocky areas and away from humans as it is timid. Viper bites can be fatal.
The 2-metre long Montpellier snake is blue with a white underbelly and has prominent ridges over the eyes. The position of its venom fangs means that it would be unlucky to have poison injected into you. The venom is much weaker than the vipers.
Viperine Water Snake
Viperine Water Snake (or just Viperine Snake), Natrix maura, which looks, behaves and strikes like an adder but is quite harmless. It is semi-aquatic and hunts and eats fish. The Viperine Water Snake can grow up to 85 centimetres in length.
Horseshoe Whip Snake
The Horseshoe Whip Snake, Hemorrhois hippocrepis or Coluber hippocrepis, is found in Algeria, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar and Tunisia. The snake gets its name from a light horseshoe-shaped mark on the neck and back of the head.
If bitten by a snake, try to remain calm and seek medical attention immediately. Bites only occur in the spring and summer as snakes hibernate. Of an estimated 50 snakebite deaths a year in Europe, only 3-6 occur in Spain. More people die from bee and wasp stings.
Spiders in Spain
There are more than 1,700 species of spiders in Spain, of which all but a few are completely harmless.
The most dangerous of the spiders, to be found in Andalucia (Almeria in particular) and Valencia, is the Black Widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus). It’s sting is painful but not fatal.
The Funnel Web Spider (Macrothele calpeiana) is a nocturnal creature which inhabits damp, shady areas such as avocado groves. It is unlikely to be found in coastal areas.
The fearsome-looking Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) is to be found in the arid regions of Aragon. It does sting but it’s venom is quite weak.
The Mediterranean Recluse Spider (Loxosceles rufescens) can give a nasty nip although far less toxic than its African cousin.
Scorpions in Spain
The most common Scorpion in Spain is the Mediterranean scorpion (Buthus occitanus) and though not as dangerous as its North African cousin, it will still give you an extremely nasty sting. Wearing boots and thick socks is a good idea if you plan to hike in dry rocky areas. The European black scorpion is also present in Spain, preferring more northerly and wetter areas. It’s sting, fortunately, is short-lived. Scorpions have a penchant for resting in shoes, so be careful!